Saffire – A Novel


I reminded myself that once you start to defend someone, it’s difficult to find a place to stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway. . .

For President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to ‘let the dirt fly’ and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats.

It’s in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt begins to protect a defenseless girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics.  It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course—or bring an end to it.

A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire brings to life the most impressive-and embattled- engineering achievement of the twentieth-century.

I confess – I had a hard time getting into this book. It is a historical fiction mystery and there were parts that completely drew my attention. But then I couldn’t keep track of the characters and the background story lines.  And the romance seemed very subtle to me.

I did though find it fascinating to read about the construction of the Panama Canal – the number of workers, the immensity of the moving of so much dirt and pouring so much concrete, and the difficulties with mosquitos and diseases. “Sure the canal would be a monstrous triumph of man over nature. The audacity to connect one ocean to another would be a combination of the world’s largest man-made lake, the world’s largest locks, the world’s largest canal. But well within a lifetime, the decades would pass, and as they did, few would give thought to the wonder of it.”

This book made me want to go and see the amazing Panama Canal. But as I read I felt bewildered (like the key character Jim Holt) as to what the American cowboy was supposed to be doing and for whom. But, for someone who will be visiting the Panama Canal, this would be a fun book to read first!   I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest opinion.

Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen novels with nearly three million copies in print. His recent novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.